Researcher of Political Science & Classical Islam. Initiated by the Khwajagan i-Naqshband.
The events of September 11, 2001, shocked not only the Americans but also the rest of the world. Horrified, millions around the world watched the massive tragedy unfold before them on television screens. Almost thirteen years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, American Muslims have undergone institutionalized profiling, discrimination, high profile trials, raids on Muslim charities and defaming of mainstream Muslim organizations. Innocent Muslim Americans have experienced a large volume of negative retaliations from different sectors of the American public in the form of violent hate crimes, defamatory speech, attacks on hijab-wearing Muslim women and discrimination and harassment at work place. “Islamophobia”, intensified through out North America.
While one of the most negative impacts of 9/11 was “Islamophobia”, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks also brought about a resurgence of Sufism in North America. This resurgence eventually spread abroad to the Middle East as well (Ambah). During the first eight years following the attacks, American policy makers relied heavily on the Sufis to counter the spread of Al Qaeda inspired violent Jihadism. However, with the election of Obama, U.S. foreign policy once again began backing the Saudi-Wahhabist lobby, thereby estranging their new allies among the Sufis. The immediate impact of this was the withdrawal of global Sufi support for America and democracy, and a new resurgence of Sufi support for monarchism (The Importance of Kingship in Islam By Mawlana Shaykh Nazim.) The first ten years of the post 9/11 era demonstrated what America was able to achieve with Sufi support. The next ten years will perhaps demonstrate what impact this loss of support from Sufis will have on US foreign policy.
Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Wahhabi and Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam was well camouflaged within mainstream North American Islam, partially due to the United States’ support for the Afghan Mujahedeen and Usama bin Laden, during the Soviet/Afghan war. After September 11, 2001, there was a resurgence of Sufism in North America, as the Unites States and Canadian governments began inviting and accepting the advice of Sufi leaders, such as Shaykh Hisham Kabbani and Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is a senior leading deputy of the world’s most renowned Grandshaykh of Sufism Shaykh Nazim Al-Qubrusi of the Naqshabandi Sufi Order. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani was recognized as one of the few Muslim scholars, to have warned of the threat of violent extremism in 2000 (Goodstein).
Shaykh Kabbani has over two million followers, making him an influential figure (About Shaykh Hisham Kabbani.) He has also written a fatwa on the principles of jihad, which was translated into Arabic and distributed in Iraq (Our WORDE Issue Number 7).
Shaykh Kabbani testified before the United States Senate about “Islamic Extremism: A Viable Threat to U.S. National Security”. His testimony took place prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, thus, demonstrating a significant impact of his findings on the post September 11, 2001 ‘9/11 Commission Report’ as well (Baran.) U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world, which historically sided with the Salafists, Wahhabis, and Deobandis, from whom came the Taliban during the Soviet/Afghan war, drastically changed post September 11, 2001. A new pro-Sufi foreign policy was adopted in America. According to the Understanding Sufism and its Potential Role in U.S. Policy conference,
“Shaykh Kabbani…was the first Muslim leader to warn the United States about the imminent threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network; he also led the Muslim world in immediately condemning the attacks of September 11th” (Baran.)
Impact on Canada
In Canada, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani’s student Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin, a Canada based deputy of Shaykh Nazim, the creator of the “12 Step De-radicalization Program” began advising Canadian authorities from as early as 2005 (Haddad) and subsequently, a report was published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) about the potential threat Wahhabi ideology could pose in a post September 11, 2001 Canada, where Canadian soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan, at war with the Taliban (Radio One CBC). Amiruddin’s warnings, like those of Shaykh Kabbani’s prior to September 11, 2001, proved true, and the Toronto 18 plot was foiled. This Toronto terror plot was directly related to the events following September 11, 2001 and the North American response in Afghanistan.
Canadian Sufi Resurgence
In Canada now, the Sufi community immediately rose to prominence (Muslim Leaders Want ‘Radical Elements’ Removed.) The Sufi community gained a voice, and Canadians began supporting Sufism and giving Sufi Muslim leaders prominence and a voice in the media. Between 2006-2013 Amiruddin was interviewed over one hundred times by the national, and international media, and was asked to testify before the Senate of Canada’s Special Committee on Anti-terrorism (Media Coverage.) Amiruddin joined the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada as the national Senior Executive VP (About Sayyid Ahmed), and the first Canadian fatwa against terrorism was issued in January 2010 (Islamic Supreme Council of Canada Issues a Fatwa Against Terrorism.) Following this, Dr. Tahir ul-Quadri settled in Canada and issued the historic 600-page fatwa against terrorism in March of 2010. This fatwa, issued while he was a resident in Canada, received international support, and heavily impacted the foreign policies of multiple countries (Casciani.) Amiruddin was credited by the Wilfred Laurier M.A. Journal on Religion and Culture as the inspiration behind Qadri’s fatwa (Haddad.)
Withdrawal of Sufi Support to America
After Obama’s election, the U.S. foreign policy changed in support of Wahhabism (Chossudovsky.) The Obama administration once again began backing Sunni extremists and al Qaeda in the post Arab Spring Middle East (Chossudovsky.) Based on the changes in policy between the two administrations, the Sufi support for America was withdrawn as stated by Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin, once a supporter of certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy (Amiruddin).
After the withdraw of Sufi support of America was declared, Shaykh Nazim began openly criticizing democracy, and calling for monarchism (The Importance of Kingship in Islam By Mawlana Shaykh Nazim.) Shaykh Nazim was voted the second most influential Muslim in the world by Reuters (Heneghan.) The tremendous global impact of ending the War on Terrorism caused a new beginning of ideological struggle in the post September 11, 2001 era within the Muslim community. This struggle can be defined as the struggle for monarchism, including constitutional monarchy as in Canada, the United Kingdom, and even increasingly Morocco and Jordan, against the Obama administration’s pro-democracy movements, which significantly interfered with the Arab Spring. All of this was a direct impact of the horrific events of September 11, 2001.
Sufism and the Post 9/11 Arab Spring
On November 23rd 2010, Shaykh Nazim declared all Arab regimes will collapse. When asked if this will be caused by an individual, or by the people, he replied, “there was a sparkler which was interconnected to each other. One explodes, then the second one explodes, just like that” (All Regimes will Collapse By Shaykh Nazim, [09::00-12].) The Tunisian revolt began exactly twenty five days later, on Dec 17th, 2010 when Mohamed Bouaziz set himself ablaze to protest laws forbidding people from selling fruits and vegetables in the street. The Tunisian revolt started the domino effect in the Arab world, popularly known as the Arab Spring. According Shaykh Nazim, the Arab Spring marked the beginning of a major political shift in the Arab and Muslim world, which will eventually result in a return to monarchism.
Monarchism in Canadian Foreign Policy
Consequently, the inconsistent post 9/11 U.S. foreign policies on Sunni Islamists have also impacted its neighbors to the north. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canadian foreign policy has turned away from the Obama administration’s democracy bandwagon, towards open support for monarchies round the world, and in the Middle East (Engler.) The Canadian government under Harper began investing in the War of 1812 commemorations, wherein York, now Toronto, was captured and looted by the Americans, and Canadian and British forces attacked Washington, and burned down the White House (Harper Government Invests in War of 1812.) Based on these developments it becomes evident that the future of Islam in America could be very different, to that in Canada. Given the Harper administration’s obsession with the monarchy (Embassies Ordered to Display Queen’s Portrait) and the rise in support of monarchism among prominent Muslims and the consistently pro-Islamic statements made by His Royal Highness Prince Charles (Follow the Islamic Way to save the World,’ Prince Charles Urges), Canada’s future constitutional king, Canada will be a better place for its Muslim Community then America.
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